Tag Archives: Panyaden wise habit

Panyaden 12 Wise Habits 2016

Panyden Wise Habit Mattannuta session at school

Mattannuta

by School Director, Neil Amas

Mattannuta (pronounced ma‐tan‐yoo‐ta มัตตัญญุตา) means ‘knowing the right amount’. When practised, it helps us achieve a healthy balance in life. It is the quality of understanding that, whatever goals we set ourselves, there is an optimum amount of material and non‐material things that we need. It is the ability to assess what is enough, and to know when we are being over‐demanding on ourselves, others or our environment.

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Phra Prom Kunaporn

The Buddha taught that the middle path should be followed by both body and mind. It is a path of neither sensory indulgence nor extreme austerity, but rather one of thoughtful moderation and balance. This does not only refer to specific actions or thoughts in isolation, for example, consuming the right amount of food, but also to achieving the right balance between all the different things we do each day and throughout our lives.

To illustrate this, Phra Prom Kunaporn refers to the importance of balancing the five indriya, or spiritual faculties: conviction (saddha), perseverance (viriya), mindfulness (sati), concentration (samadhi) and wisdom (panya). For example, if our conviction or faith is very strong but we do not use wisdom, we have a tendency to become gullible, a person who follows without question. Conversely, high intelligence but little faith leads to scepticism, and an inability to look inside oneself for the truth. If our perseverance is strong but our concentration is weak, we are likely to become agitated and stressed. Too much concentration and insufficient perseverance, on the other hand, leads to excessive daydreaming or idleness. To find the right balance between these, we need to use the faculty of mindfulness (sati) to observe and manage the impulses that habitually drive our actions and thoughts.

In today’s world of branded ‘must-haves’ and ubiquitous advertising, teaching the new generation how to consume the right amount is very important. Natural resources are stretched and we are experiencing increasing environmental degradation. Understanding mattannuta, therefore, is vital for our students as they grow up and shape the future of our society and our world. Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro counsels that if we think more is better simply in order to make our lives more comfortable, we will end up just wanting more and more and will never be satisfied. His advice is to encourage children to work out the mattannuta point for themselves. Whether eating, sleeping, studying, playing, using the computer or talking, the ability to find optimal balance through self-regulation is a skill which will lead to maturity and social responsibility. This means not dictating the rules to children, but rather helping them see the results of too much sleep – irritability and heaviness – or not enough – drowsiness and the inability to concentrate, or over-eating – stomach ache – and so on. When we ask our children how much sleep they think they need, how much food they should eat, instead of routinely imposing our own limits, they begin to understand mattannuta. If we encourage children to persevere for just another five minutes on a task they are bored with or wish to avoid, or to stop doing something they really crave a little earlier than they would like, this further helps put into focus the pushes and pulls of the mind and the benefits of balance.

Ven. Ajahn Jayasaro, Panyaden International School spiritual advisor
Ven. Ajahn Jayasaro

Venerable Jayasaro suggests that a family which practices mattannuta is one where parents and children are able to come to mutually acceptable agreements. This means deciding how long we think children should watch TV or play on the computer, for example, but also respecting our child’s ability to think for himself and come to a sensible agreement on the right amount of time. When the time has passed, we simply remind our child of the agreement. In this age of ever-increasing ‘screen time’, as adults we also need to reflect on the amount of time we spend on ‘smart’ phones or laptops in the presence of children, and the message we are giving them about what we consider to be important.

Mattannuta means understanding that any goals we set should take into account the optimum balance of supporting factors required to achieve the most beneficial result for ourselves, others and the environment. Practising mattannuta helps us to understand the desires and aversions created by our mind, and that understanding, in turn, increases the peaceful moments we experience. Mattannuta is, therefore, a vitally important wise habit to teach our children, but also to practice ourselves if we are to achieve true balance in our lives.

lotus2 transparentClick here for article in Thai: มัตตัญญุตา

‘Mattannuta’ by Neil Amas

Panyaden wise habit, Mattanuta session

Mattannuta (pronounced ma-tan-yoo-ta มัตตัญญุตา) means ‘knowing the right amount.’ When practised, it helps us achieve a healthy balance in life. It is the quality of understanding that, whatever goals we set ourselves, there is an optimum amount of material and non-material things that we need. It is the ability to assess what is enough, and to know when we are being over-demanding on ourselves, others or our environment.

The Buddha taught that the middle path should be followed by both body and mind. It is a path of neither sensory indulgence nor extreme austerity, but rather one of thoughtful moderation and balance. This does not only refer to specific actions or thoughts in isolation, for example consuming the right amount of food, but also to achieving the right balance between all the different things we do each day and throughout our lives.

To illustrate this, Phra Prom Kunaporn refers to the importance of balancing the five indriya, or spiritual faculties: conviction (saddha), perseverance (viriya), mindfulness (sati), concentration (samadhi) and wisdom (panya). For example, if our conviction or faith is very strong but we do not use wisdom, we have a tendency to become gullible, a person that follows without question. Conversely, high intelligence but little faith leads to scepticism, and an inability to look inside oneself for the truth. If our perseverance is strong but our concentration is weak, we are likely to become agitated and stressed. Too much concentration and insufficient perseverance, on the other hand, leads to excessive daydreaming or idleness. To find the right balance between these, we need to use the faculty of mindfulness (sati) to observe and manage the impulses that habitually drive our actions and thoughts.

Ajahn-Jayasaro-at-Panyaden-School-Chiang-Mai-2In today’s world of branded ‘must-haves’ and ubiquitous advertising, teaching the new generation how to consume the right amount is very important. Natural resources are stretched and we are experiencing increasing environmental degradation. Understanding mattannuta, therefore, is vital for our students as they grow up and shape the future of our society and our world. Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro counsels that if we think more is better simply in order to make our lives more comfortable, we will end up just wanting more and more and will never be satisfied. His advice is to encourage children to work out the mattannuta point for themselves. Whether eating, sleeping, studying, playing, using the computer or talking, the ability to find optimal balance through self-regulation is a skill which will lead to maturity and social responsibility. This means not dictating the rules to children, but rather helping them see the results of too much sleep – irritability and heaviness – or not enough – drowsiness and the inability to concentrate, or over-eating – stomach ache – and so on. When we ask our children how much sleep they think they need, how much food they should eat, instead of routinely imposing our own limits, they begin to understand mattannuta. If we encourage children to persevere for just another five minutes on a task they are bored with or wish to avoid, or to stop doing something they really crave a little earlier than they would like, this further helps put into focus the pushes and pulls of the mind and the benefits of balance.

Venerable Jayasaro suggests that a family which practices mattannuta is one where parents and children are able to come to mutually acceptable agreements. This means deciding how long we think children should watch TV or play on the computer, for example, but also respecting our child’s ability to think for himself and come to a sensible agreement on the right amount of time. When the time has passed, we simply remind our child of the agreement. In this age of ever-increasing ‘screen time,’ as adults we also need to reflect on the amount of time we spend on ‘smart’ phones or laptops in the presence of children, and the message we are giving them about what we consider to be important.

Mattannuta means understanding that any goals we set should take into account the optimum balance of supporting factors required to achieve the most beneficial result for ourselves, others and the environment. Practising mattannuta helps us to understand the desires and aversions created by our mind, and that understanding in turn increases the peaceful moments we experience. Mattannuta is, therefore, a vitally important wise habit to teach our children, but also to practice ourselves if we are to achieve true balance in our lives.

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Click here for article in Thai: มัตตัญญุตา

Wise Habit Caga Skit

Panyaden wise habit skit by teachers

Today, we learned about wise habit, “Caga” (“จาคะ”, being generous). Master Caga showed us how to be generous in a skit.  Master Metta was sick and needed blood. Master Caga came to help and asked if anyone could donate blood. Kru William came forward to do so. This was a good story of Caga in action.

Panyaden Wise Habit: Samadhi

This week’s wise habit, Samadhi

Panyaden School Chiang Mai wise habit: Samadhi through storytelling

Mr. Ou is about to start working when his friends drop by to ask him to play basketball and music with them. He tries to do all and is too distracted to complete his work. Along comes Master Samadhi who teaches him how to stay calm and focused (samadhi). Mr. Ou learns his lesson and decides to concentrate on finishing his work first before he joins his friends for some fun.

Panyaden 12 wise habits: Viriya By Neil Amas, School Director

Our students have been learning about and practising the wise habit Viriya. Here is some information about Viriya which we hope you find useful. 

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Panyaden teachers enact a story to illustrate wise habit, Viriya

Viriya (pronounced wi‐ri‐ya) is a very important virtue in Buddhism, commonly translated as “perseverance”, or “diligent effort”. It can be defined as an attitude of gladly engaging in wholesome activities and staying with them in order to accomplish the desired results. It is the mind intent on being unshaken and not giving up. It supports the otherwise habits, because making progress is impossible without resolution, and is the virtue that follows chanda, for you first need motivation to be able to put forth diligent effort.

Viriya originates from the Sanskrit vira which means ‘hero’ and, as such, we can see viriya as the act of conjuring forth the qualities of a hero. Viriya is identified in Buddhist teachings as a critical component of a number of qualities that lead to happiness and liberation of the mind, such as the five spiritual faculties (indriya) and the ten “perfections” (parami). It is also associated with Right Effort, one part of the Noble Eightfold Path, which identifies four types of right effort:
‐ to prevent negative, unwholesome states of mind from arising ‐ to abandon them if they have arisen ‐ to generate positive, wholesome states not yet existing ‐ to maintain them without lapse, causing them to develop and to reach full growth.

Viriya has to emerge from your heart, from a place of right intention and in balance with other wise habits, such as patience (khanti), concentration (samathi), awareness (sati) and wise reflection (yoniso manasikara). If we put our energy and effort into actions without the right mind we will cause more harm than good. As Venerable Ajahn Pasanno writes in A Dhamma Compass, “while it is important to put forth effort it is also important to slacken off at times. If you are always pushing, the mind can get on edge, restless and unsettled. We need to gauge and reflect on what is appropriate effort.’’

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Panyaden wise habit, Viriya session at school

Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro explains the role of viriya in education. ‘’While it is important to be relaxed when we are learning, we also have to teach perseverance and determination. Enthusiasm (chanda) leads to perseverance (viriya) which leads to concentration (samathi) which leads to skilful use of the mind (yoniso manasikara). If we have chanda we are eager to know, learn the truth and value what we do. From there viriya will occur and be followed by patience and tolerance towards any obstacles we find in our way.” When the mind is motivated yet patient, we are more able to make decisions calmly and with wisdom.

We can encourage our children to reflect on how they feel after completing a task with perseverance. To encourage greater effort, we can try setting mini‐goals on the way to achieving a greater task, extending the distance between these steps as the child gets older or gets better at cultivating effort. And, of course, we must lead by example with our own displays of viriya. When we see others refusing to give up despite obstacles and setbacks, it can be very inspiring.

Having desire to do something is good because it gets us going, but actually sustaining effort and energy is where a lot of the hard work is. We might have the desire to get off the sofa and get some exercise and even make a start, but in order to achieve the desired long term results such as weight loss or fitness, we need to keep at it!

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Thai translation of above article: Viriya_TH

Panyaden 12 wise habits: Sacca

Seeking the truth

by Neil Amas, School Director

Our students perform a play about being truthful

Sacca (pronounced ‘sat-ja’) is a Pali word meaning “real” or “true.” It means to uphold integrity by speaking and acting according to the truth and keeping one’s word. It is a wise habit of profound importance, perhaps the most important, and yet in daily life it is one of the most difficult for us to consistently practise.

In early Buddhist writings sacca is often found in reference to ariya-sacca, or ‘noble truth’ and, specifically, the Four Noble Truths, the essence of the Buddha’s teachings. In this context, sacca can be translated as ‘reality’, where the Buddha expounds the absolute truth of suffering, its cause, cessation and the path out of suffering. At a deeper level, therefore, truth is not just a verbal statement of fact but is the nature of things as they are. Respected Buddhist scholar and monk Bhikku Bodhi explains, “Much more than an ethical principle, devotion to truthful speech is a matter of taking our stand on reality rather than illusion, on the truth grasped by wisdom rather than the fantasies woven by desire.’’

Prathom students singing a song about truthfulness

One way to define truthfulness is by looking at its opposite, false speech and action. Untruthfulness is not only telling lies. We also have a tendency to add things in or leave things out. We often exaggerate in order to make ourselves and our lives seem more interesting and exciting. We exaggerate because we want to be liked and do not think we are lovable enough as we are. Or we use understatement, saying things like, ‘No, no, I’m not upset’ or ‘It’s no bother at all’ when clearly the opposite is true. We simply want to please others or fear disapproval and in fact we are being quite false. And there are also times when what we say is not a lie, as such, but because of what we leave out it is not the whole truth. Here the intention can be to convey a completely wrong impression, such as describing someone we don’t like in a one-sided way or describing events without certain unfavourable details to show ourselves in a good light. When the truth suffers, so do others and so do we. Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro further comments, “You don’t have to reveal the entire contents of your mind to others. You must ask yourself, to what extent is it beneficial to yourself and to others, to what extent is it harmful? Will it increase the amount of dukkha (suffering)?”

Untruthfulness stems from being afraid, of our teachers or parents, of being punished, or being looked down on or scolded. The ability to be truthful, on the other hand, is a sign of confidence and emotional maturity. Sacca is a great strength of the mind. Venerable Jayasaro has said, ‘’People don’t have much faith in telling the truth all the time. But sacca is the foundation to all the other wise habits.”

In 12 Ways to Happiness, he suggests that children are particularly prone to being untruthful because they are so dependent on others for their well-being. It is natural they may have doubts or anxieties that the people they depend upon will disapprove, or even abandon them. To create a love for sacca from children, we should point out how beneficial it is to speak the truth. We should help them see what feelings arise when we are truthful, especially when it is tempting to create a false picture just to get praise; or how good it feels when we keep a promise, particularly one which was hard to keep. By the same token, we need to show our children the suffering and complications we have to endure when we do not tell truth. ‘’We should teach children that if we do something wrong, we should accept it, and make up our mind not to make the same mistake again. It is up to parents and teachers to gain trust from our children by demonstrating our sense of justice, integrity and our readiness to forgive.”

This most challenging of wise habits is a trial for all of us. Every day we are faced with the dilemma of whether or not to bend the truth, to leave something out or to put too much in or to do what we said we would do. If we are able to model this most pure and precious of virtues to our children, we will give them a most wonderful gift for life, and one which creates a harmonious and peaceful society for all.

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Panyaden Wise Habits: Sati

Mindful Eating

It is difficult to stay silent and focus on nothing else but what we are doing at the present moment. Nevertheless, this is what Panyaden School students did to practise Sati (mindfulness) in term 1. They tried ‘mindful eating’ in total silence. A great way to calm and focus the mind!

Panyaden Wise Habit, Sati

 

 

We have just finished practicing Sati, or presence of mind, awareness or mindfulness with our students.

Neil Amas, our School Director, shares further information on Sati that you may find useful.

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Sati is most commonly translated as presence of mind, awareness or mindfulness.  It originates from the Sanskrit word smṛti, the root meaning of which is ‘to remember’ and as such it further has the meaning of retention or recollection.  To have sati is to be fully present, not lost in daydreams, anticipation or worry. It is being alert and attentive to everything as it is, not filtering things though our subjective opinions.  It is also remembering to be aware of something or to do something at a designated time in the future.

Sati has the characteristic of faithfully returning back to refocus on an object whenever the mind wanders away from it. The Buddha advocated that one should establish sati in one’s day-to-day life, maintaining as much as possible a calm awareness of one’s bodily functions, sensations (feelings), objects of consciousness (thoughts and perceptions), and consciousness itself.

Sati
is part of the Noble Eightfold Path. Practising Right Effort (viriya), Right Awareness (sati) and Right Concentration (samadhi) together helps us to train the mind to be calm, balanced and, ultimately, freed from the dissatisfactions that cloud our thoughts. As unwholesome or negative thoughts arise in the mind, we apply sati to recognise them and prevent them from causing difficulty or unpleasantness.  Sati is the moderating tool we use to assess our practice and progress in the other wise habits and, importantly, to understand the right balance between them. For example, we might become aware that although we have plenty of enthusiasm for a task (chandha), we lack sufficient patience to complete it (khanti). It is like a mental witness, a built in system of notes and reminders which helps us stay present, learn from past mistakes, do things better next time.

Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro explains in 12 Ways to Happiness that when we are able to solve problems or make things better quickly, it means we have sati.  ‘’If we are able to use, adapt or apply what we learn from the past to fix the problem in the present, we have sati.’’ He advises parents and teachers that we need to realise clearly what we are doing at the present, what we are teaching now, what students are learning and whether they are listening to us. This helps us to keep focusing on teaching or parenting, doing our best to teach and guide our children continuously without being distracted. There are times when we talk to our children with one eye on the computer, or with our minds thinking about what happened at work today or what chores we need to do later. And yet we also experience times when we give full attention to what we are doing with our children. This tends to result in a happier, healthier experience for both us and our children.

We need to encourage eye contact from our children, remind them to place their shoes neatly on the shoe rack, ask them to describe the taste of their food, have them check their bags routinely before school in the morning, encourage self-awareness of sensations and feelings when they get angry or upset and remind them of their home and classroom responsibilities. A child who kicks off his shoes, gulps down her food, forgets her school book or loses his temper easily does not have sati.

Changing the mental habits and conditioning of a lifetime, no matter how short, is not easy. We might encourage ourselves and our children to choose a particular activity such as preparing or eating a meal, washing the dishes, or taking a walk, and make an effort to be fully mindful of the task as we perform it. In time we will find ourselves paying more attention to everything. No matter how brief the moment that the mind is fully focused on the here and now, it is very powerful. As we develop sati the mind becomes lucid, the body alert and we are able to think with clarity and composure, to make wise choices, to know our responsibilities and improve ourselves.

If we are unaware of our present actions, we are condemned to repeating our mistakes from the past and never achieving our dreams for the future. It is said that if you miss the moment, you miss your life. How much of our lives have we missed? Be mindful!

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Panyaden Wise Habit 1: Awihingsa

Prathom students role play this week’s wise habit

Panyaden School primary students getting ready to perform for their schoolmates
Life Skills teacher with PE teacher, Panyaden School in Chiang MaiKru Yuzu and Kru Noy told us yesterday that Panyaden School’s favourite Kung Fu Chef was on a secret mission somewhere in Chiang Mai but he had left word with them that our P3-6 students should enact for their schoolmates this week’s wise habit, Awihingsaa, ‘not harming’ (อวิหิงสา).

Under the tutelage of drama teacher Kru Claire, our Prathom students first showed us how we should not harm people with our actions. A group of boys were happily playing football together when they got into a fight. They ended up getting hurt and receiving a red card for each team. This little story reminds us to always be mindful of each other even when playing and competing, and not to harm anyone with our careless actions.

Panyaden School boys acting out football game at their green school's bamboo assembly hall Football game gone wrong - bilingual school students role-playing Thai and foreign students performing at green school's assembly hall (Panyaden School) Panyaden School boys acknowledging applause of their schoolmates

Next, some students were fighting for a toy they all wanted to play with. They ganged up in little groups and started telling tales about their classmates. It soon dawned on them that they were happier playing and sharing with each other, so they apologized and decided that it was more fun to be positive and thoughtful to their friends rather than harm them with unkind words and needless gossip.

Primary school girls role playing in school assembly hall at Panyaden, international school in Chiang Mai Panyaden School students acting their roles as 'gossippers' in school performance Gossipping students - Panyaden School's Thai and expat students role-playing in bilingual school Taking a bow - students of Panyaden, the bilingual school in Chiang Mai after a performance